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Shirati’s Got Talent

Maji Safi Group's first ever Shirati's Got Talent!

Maji Safi Group’s first ever Shirati’s Got Talent!

The Maji Safi Group (MSG) team came up with the idea of “Shirati Wanavipaji” (“Shirati’s Got Talent”) as a community empowerment tool to draw attention to public health and disease prevention issues, while simultaneously bringing out pride in the immense talents the Shirati community has! After discussing the feasibility of the idea for over a year, MSG started the competition with a bang on February 7. Auditions drew more than 35 individuals and groups, including some of the more prominent singers and dance groups in Shirati. Hundreds of children were at the office that day trying to get a sneak peak of who would be the lucky 10 chosen to advance. To try out, all you had to do was receive four different Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) lessons from the MSG Community Health Workers (CHWs). This method gave us participants as young as seven and as old as 35.

After the judges had selected the 10 semifinalists, it was time for MSG to start preparing for our Valentine’s Day semifinal event – buy decorations, organize the songs each competitor was going to use, borrow a generator from a hospital guard, send someone to cut wooden poles for the stage area, check the sound system, etc. Additionally, our CHWs were busy finishing preparations with participants from our Female Hygiene Program and our Singing and Dance Group for their performances. When Valentine’s Day came around, we were excited to invite the community to check out this new and one-of-a-kind event in the Rorya District.

All competitors were on time and charged for the semifinals, and they did not disappoint in front of a crowd of more than seven hundred people. The show had an electric vibe with more and more community members continually trickling in throughout the show. In addition to their artistic performances, all participants had to give answers to questions about WASH, which the judges also factored in. The highlight of the show was an original song written by 12-year-old MSG Female Hygiene Program participant Joyce Thomas about the importance of staying in school. The song brought support and cheers from numerous women in the community! The judges, Susan Waltisberg and Consolata Ladis from MSG, Paulo Masweta from the local radio station, and community favorite Fred Chacha, had some very difficult decisions to make, but they were able to select the five finalists who would be performing at the Shirati Market on Monday, February 16, 2015 – competing for 215,000 Tanzanian shillings ($135). After a Valentine’s Day community dance party with the competitors, the semifinals had everyone leaving the MSG office with smiles on their faces and collective community pride in their hearts.

With the quick turn-around of only one day, the MSG team quickly shifted its focus to organizing the finals, which we anticipated would be our biggest event ever. The CHWs used the morning of the finals to promote the event by driving around Shirati with a public announcement system and by visiting market goers and teaching them about WASH and disease prevention. Meanwhile, the stage was being set, and the judges were arriving from the local radio and partner organizations for the inaugural finals starting at 4 p.m.

Community Health Worker, Diana Nguka, performing a Maji Safi Group original song

Community Health Worker, Diana Nguka, performing a Maji Safi Group original song

Once the finals started, over 1,200 community members came together to watch each finalist perform an individual and a Maji Safi Group-themed piece and answer two questions about WASH in front of a very enthusiastic crowd. The message of preventing disease and improving Shirati’s public health situation went hand in hand with celebrating local talents. With his stand out Maji Safi Group-themed performance, Double A brought the crowd to the point where community members were running onto the stage to give him tips. After much deliberation, the judges chose Double A as the proud winner of the first ever “Shirati Wanavipaji”!

“Shirati Wanavipaji” was a huge success for MSG. We were thrilled to have such great support from the community and to see that the MSG team’s innovative idea worked. Maji Safi Group is proud to be the only organization in the Rorya District that puts on events that provide a stage for local talent to bring awareness to public health issues! We look forward to making “Shirati Wanavipaji” an annual celebration of community talent that helps build momentum around MSG’s mission of preventing disease and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Wiki ya Maji 2015: World Water Week

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2015 National Tanzania Water Week in Musoma

From March 18-22, Maji Safi Group represented the Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network and the Lake Zone WASH Forum at the 27th annual National Tanzania Water Week celebration, which was held in Musoma this year. The Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (TAWASANET) was founded in 2008 to create a network of Tanzanian civil society organizations that work in the water and sanitation sector. It strives to increase sharing between civil society organizations, promote partnerships between civil society and other sector stakeholders, build the capacity of civil society in the water and sanitation sector, and strengthen the voice of civil society in national policy debates. Furthermore, TAWASANET is promoting the formation of local WASH networks to strengthen impact and efficiency. Maji Safi Group serves as the representative for the Mara Region in the Lake Zone WASH Forum.

Maji Safi Group and TAWASANET Lake Zone booth

Maji Safi Group and TAWASANET Lake Zone booth

The MSG team that traveled to Water Week included three Community Health Workers (Diana Nguka, Mwamvua Saba, and Jared Owaga Ongati), MSG Community Arts Coordinator (Jacky Lucas), MSG Programs Manager (Susan Waltisberg), MSG Director of Operations (Bruce Maj Pelz), and MSG Executive Director (Max Perel-Slater). The team was busy all week teaching lessons on how to prevent disease and giving practical demonstrations on AfriPads, hand washing, and household water treatment methods like chlorine, Solar Disinfection (SODIS), and ceramic filters.

Top left to top right: Jacky Lucas, Susan Waltisberg, Diana Nguka, Jared Owaga Ongati, and Max Perel-Slater Bottom left to bottom right: Bruce Maj Pelz and Mwamvua Saba

Top left to top right: Jacky Lucas, Susan Waltisberg, Diana Nguka, Jared Owaga Ongati, and Max Perel-Slater. Bottom left to bottom right: Bruce Maj Pelz and Mwamvua Saba.

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Tanzanian youth at the Maji Safi Group booth

 

As always, MSG made disease prevention very engaging by combining creative and artistic activities with our health education. Jacky created an amazing banner for the Maji Safi Group tent that depicted possible contamination routes of water sources and potential treatment options. Throughout the week, Tanzanians from all over the country stopped by to check out the artwork and even take pictures! The CHWs and staff also used songs and interactive art projects to make our message resonate with our young visitors. Children of all ages waited, sometimes in long lines, in front of our pavilion to get the chance to draw and paint with Jacky and the CHWs. Meanwhile, the other staff members were teaching adults about water treatment and disease prevention. During Water Week, MSG’s booth reached 2,013 adults and 1,799 children from all over Tanzania who were thrilled to receive our health education.

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The CHWs and Jacky also took many pictures of Water Week. It is great to see how our staff can now transfer the knowledge they get in our workshops to their photography. Our CHWs took all the pictures in this blogpost, except the group picture.

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Youth waiting to learn about disease prevention from Maji Safi Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water Week was also an amazing opportunity for the MSG staff to network with other organizations in the Tanzanian water sector and learn about new household water treatment methods. One organization that MSG had particular synergy with was the District Council of Temeke who does disease prevention work similar to ours in the Dar es Salaam area. While the two organizations work in very different settings (urban compared to rural), we were able to compare experiences with teaching the community and make plans to visit each other’s programs.

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Furthermore, the MSG Community Health Workers and staff were able to check out new products for household water treatment. We heard about a new ceramic filter design from Davis and Shirtliff that uses low-cost filter elements. Additionally, we learned about a new type of chlorine tablet that uses sodium chlorite and does not leave a taste or smell in the water after treatment. The MSG staff took home samples of these products for testing to assess if we should integrate them into our lessons.

 

 

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Front left: Vice President of Tanzania, Mohamed Gharib Bilal

On World Water Day (March 22), the Vice President of Tanzania, Mohamed Gharib Bilal, visited our booth and commented that our work is crucial for the health and development of Tanzania! Overall, the week was an amazing opportunity for MSG to teach community members from across Tanzania, get significant exposure in the water sector, and create opportunities for cooperation with other WASH organizations.

Empowering Tanzanians through Photography

Dear Maji Safi friends,

It is the very first time that I am writing my thoughts for this blog. So first of all let me introduce myself. My name is Christoph Stulz. Soon I will be turning 33 years old, born in Switzerland, proud father of 2 beautiful daughters and working for the Swiss NGO Interteam. I am based in Mwanza, the second largest city in Tanzania on the picturesque Lake Victoria. My lovely wife is our NGO’s country coordinator so I am also called Interteam’s first lady in Tanzania, thanks to all who gave me this nickname!

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Christoph with Community Health Worker, Lilian

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Christoph with Community Heath Worker, Consol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I have a very interesting assignment with Maji Safi Group in Shirati as a photographer, videographer, graphic designer, and, last but not least, as a teacher in photography. I get to educate Maji Safi Group’s Community Health Workers, also called Water Ambassadors.

Teaching Community Health Workers (Lilian, Beatrice, and Winner) about photography

Teaching Community Health Workers (Lilian, Beatrice, and Winner) about photography

It has been my very first experience in the pedagogic field of teaching adults, so before my first group of Maji Safi Community Health Worker students, I was totally nervous and afraid of standing in front of a group of people, as I am a bit introverted.

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers (Winner, and Lilian) how to use a camera

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers (Winner, and Lilian) how to use a camera

But the first workshops in September and October with 3 different groups of Community Health Workers were fantastic! The students were very interested and the goal we set up was reached.

Photography is a daily occurrence here in Tanzania; people get very excited about pictures of themselves. So called “selfies” are already common in the daily lives of Tanzanians. They love to strike a pose in public places when local photographers are doing their small business. And as the smart mobile phones have gotten cheaper and cheaper, today thousands of photographs make their way through What’s App and Facebook in Tanzania.

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

So the idea behind educating the local staff of Maji Safi Group in photography, and later, in videography, is very interesting. The result of this activity is leading to nice pictures made by locals which are totally different photographs you would get if a foreigner makes them, even if this outsider would be the very best professional photographer. Locals see this world here in a very different way from us foreigners. They will automatically get a more sensitive and closer view or access to the local world here in the villages around Shirati, and finally Maji Safi Group will get wonderful photographic material about our different programs and activities. So, all of us are looking forward to seeing more and more photos as a result. I think some of them will turn out like artwork.

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Photo taken by Community Health Worker

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Photo taken by Community Health Worker

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Photo taken by Community Health Worker

During the past 3 workshops, I first explained to each small group of Community Health Workers the different camera types and their parts and simple procedures: like how to turn the camera on and off, how to zoom the lens, how to use the flash. Some of the students haven’t had any experiences with cameras at all before. Others got the sense of it faster, as they had already worked with photography on their mobile phones. So we decided working just with the automatic mode of the cameras because the cameras know much better which settings they should choose for each situation. After the short technical introduction we changed the subject to the even more interesting part about the creativity of photography.  We then talked about the rules which can help us to increase the quality of our pictures to attract or fascinate their future viewers.

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers about photography

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers about photography

All in all, the first workshops were very successful as you can see here a selection of photographs made by our water ambassadors.

I am looking forward to my next time in Shirati when we continue practicing and take a lot more exciting pictures.

Best greetings from Tanzania,

Christoph Stulz

Thank You Lego Foundation!

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They are small pieces of plastic in an array of colors.

 

 

They have taught, inspired and fascinated children in many countries for decades on end.

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We thank the Lego Foundation for generously donating a Charity Box to Maji Safi Group, so the children we work with in rural Tanzania can experience the fun of combining LEGO blocks in numerous and creative ways.

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LEGOs, as we know them, were invented in Denmark in 1958 to inspire "good play". The word LEGO is short for the words ‘LEG GODT’ – ‘play well’ in Danish.

LEGOs, as we know them, were invented in Denmark in 1958 to inspire “good play”. The word LEGO is short for the words ‘LEG GODT’ – ‘play well’ in Danish.